37.5 per week
£21,692 + per year
If you enjoy helping and caring for children, this job could be ideal for you. A children's nurse provides care for children and young people with a wide range of conditions.
As a children's nurse, you will need to have the ability to comfort, reassure and gain the trust of patients. You’ll need excellent communication and listening skills. You’ll also need the authority and confidence to deal with children or parents in stressful circumstances.
To work as a children's nurse, you will need a Nursing and Midwifery Council approved degree. You must also agree to a Disclosure and Barring Service check.
A children's nurse provides care for children and young people (under the age of 18) with a range of conditions often linked to acute or long-term health problems.
Children are not always able to fully communicate how they are feeling. As a children's nurse, you would use your skills and knowledge to interpret children's behaviour and recognise when their health has deteriorated.
Your duties would usually include:
- working with doctors to assess the needs of ill, injured or disabled children
- deciding what level of nursing care is required
- working closely with parents and carers to help them cope with having an ill child in hospital
- teaching parents or carers how to care for their child after returning home.
The practical nursing care you give could include:
- checking temperatures
- measuring blood pressure and breathing rates
- helping doctors with physical examinations
- giving drugs and injections
- cleaning and dressing wounds
- administering blood transfusions and drips (intravenous drips)
- using hi-tech medical equipment.
You would work closely with other professionals including healthcare assistants, doctors, social workers and hospital play specialists.
With experience, you could go on to specialise in an area such as burns and plastics, child protection, cancer care, neonatal nursing or intensive care.
Working hours and conditions
You would normally work 37.5 hours a week, which can include evenings, weekends, night shifts and bank holidays. Many hospitals offer flexible hours or part-time work. Extra hours may also be available.
You could work in a special children’s hospital or hospice, on a children’s ward in a general hospital or, after further training, in paediatric intensive care. You could also work in the community, at a GP practice or at a child health clinic.
Nurses can earn between £21,692 and £28,180 a year. Experienced nurses working as advanced practitioners, clinical specialists or nurse team managers can earn from £26,000 to around £41,000. Nurse consultants can earn between £39,000 and £68,000 a year.
Extra allowances may be paid to those living in or around London.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
To qualify as a children's nurse,you will need to study for a degree in children's nursing leading to registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
To do a degree, you will normally need:
- at least five GCSEs (A-C), including English, maths and a science
- two or three A levels, including at least one science or health-related subject
- good references.
You will also need to pass occupational health checks and background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). See the DBS website for more information.
Contact course providers for exact entry requirements, as other qualifications may also be accepted, such as an Access to Higher Education or Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care. If you already have a health-related degree, you may be able to join a nursing degree on the second year of a course at the course provider's discretion.
You can find course providers on the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and NHS Careers websites. The NMC website also includes application advice.
Please note: the Advanced Diploma/DipHE in Nursing is no longer open for applications. All applicants must now complete a degree.
When applying for a course, it may be helpful if you have some relevant paid or voluntary experience. You can check the Do-it website and also contact the voluntary services coordinator at your local NHS Trust for information about volunteering opportunities.
Alternative entry routes
You could prepare for entry to a nursing degree by doing an Apprenticeship in healthcare. Schemes vary between NHS Trusts, but will normally include clinical placements and working towards a qualification like the Level 3 Diploma in Clinical Healthcare Support.
To find out more visit the Apprenticeships website and contact your local NHS Trust.
Nursing cadet schemes also offer on-the-job training, which could be used as entry to a nursing degree although most have now been replaced by the Apprenticeship route.
If you are an experienced healthcare assistant or childcare worker in a healthcare setting, with a level 3 qualification and you have the support of your employer, you may be able to complete a part-time nursing degree by applying for a secondment. Check with your employer for details about secondments.
You may be eligible for NHS funding to do a nursing degree, which would include course fees and a bursary to help with living expenses. Full-time students will receive a non-means tested grant of £1,000, an additional means tested bursary of up to £4,443 a year (£5,513 for students in London) and can apply for a reduced non-means tested loan. Check with NHS Student Bursaries for full details.
Nurses trained outside the UK
If you are a qualified nurse from a country inside the European Economic Area (EEA), you can apply to register with the NMC. You may need to take further NMC-approved assessments or training before you can register, depending on your qualifications and experience.
If you qualified outside of the EEA, you may need to complete the Overseas Nurses Programme before you can work as a nurse in the UK. Check with the NMC for details.
Training and development
Once you have started a nurse training programme, you will divide your time between university study and supervised work placements in hospitals and in the community. Most courses are full-time and take three years to complete.
A children's nursing degree will cover many areas, including:
- foundations and theory of nursing practice
- developing observation, communication and teamworking skills
- health promotion strategies for children and young people
- anatomy and physiology
- medicine management
- managing the care needs of children and young people
- professional standards and code of practice.
Throughout your course, you will have the opportunity to develop your knowledge and skills by working in a variety of settings from neonatal clinics to children's centres.
Your progress through the course would be measured through a combination of coursework, assessment, exams and project work.
With further study (for example to masters degree level) you may be able to apply for advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) and clinical nurse specialist (CNS) posts. Experience in these roles can lead to a nurse consultant job. Nurse consultants work directly and independently with patients, carry out research and deliver training.
As a qualified nurse you must renew your professional registration with the NMC every three years. To renew, you need to have worked a minimum of 450 hours and completed at least 35 hours of professional development training during the three-year period. Check with the NMC for details.
If you are already a registered nurse and want to move into a different branch of nursing, you may be able to apply for a shortened 18-month training programme.
Return to practice
If you are a former registered nurse wanting to return to the profession, you can take a return to practice course to bring your skills and knowledge up to date. See the NMC website and contact your local NHS Trust for more details.
Skills, interests and qualities
To become a children's nurse, you will need to have:
- a genuine interest in helping and caring for children
- good observation skills
- the ability to make decisions and act quickly when you notice changes in children's health
- the ability to comfort, reassure and gain children's trust
- excellent communication and listening skills
- an awareness of the variety of techniques for communicating with children, such as play
- the authority and confidence to deal with children or parents in stressful circumstances
- the ability to teach parents or carers basic nursing skills
- physical and mental stamina
- good organisation and time management skills
- the ability to remain calm under pressure
- a mature, compassionate and sensitive manner.
Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
23 Portland Place
Tel: 020 7333 9333
Tel: 0345 60 60 655
Health Learning and Skills Advice Line
Tel: 08000 150 850
Skills for Health
Tel: 0117 922 1155
You will find most jobs within the NHS, however you could also work in the private sector and in schools.
With experience you could progress to sister, ward manager or team leader with responsibility for running a ward or a team of nurses in the community. You could go on to other management roles, such as a matron or director of nursing.
With further study (for example to Masters degree level) you may be able to apply for advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) and clinical nurse specialist (CNS) posts.
Experience in these roles can lead to a nurse consultant position. Consultants work directly and independently with patients, carry out research, and develop and deliver training.
As a children's nurse, you could train as a health visitor, neonatal or school nurse, or practice nurse in a doctor's surgery. You could also become self-employed or work overseas.
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